Are you guys crazy? We hear you ask...
That's a very good question, why take an old rusting Land Rover 90 that leaks various fluids, leaves a trail of rust every time you open the doors (seriously, there are little bits of this car in every corner of the UK) and has been painted so many colours over it's lifetime the paintwork is now thicker than the metal, well, we just really wanted to see what we could do with the old girl.
The project started like any other refurbishment project, we found something that looked in really good condition and thought this wont take us long or cost us too much, little bit of paint here and there and swap a few bits and it will be great. So we took it to a garage really looking forward to getting the wheels rolling, the mechanic took a quick look over and asked us "what the hell did you guys buy" which was not quite the reaction we were looking for from a mechanic but we were not disheartened, we took it to a body and spray specialist and he looked around and said "what were you guys thinking".
Right, so by this point we started to see a pattern emerging, maybe in our excitement and our blind love for Land Rovers we had jumped the gun a tad, but that wasn't going to stop us, when some would have stuck the advert back up and cut their losses or even scrapped her, we said no, we are going to carry on to the bitter end.
SPOILER ALERT: The idea of scrapping her and cutting our losses did pop up once or twice more before the project would end.
The strip down - October 2016
We have all done it, when you look at something and think it won't take too long, thinking I'll be back in the pub before lunch time, then 6:00pm passes and you realise the job is a lot bigger than first thought because you hit problem after problem and nothing seems to be going right, well, this was pretty much our first day of the strip down.
After stripping down the entire body we soon realised that only a few body parts were going to survive the project including the side panels, the roof, the tub and one or two other small bits, this little unloved 90 was like Frankenstein's monster and was getting scarier by the day.
We stripped her right down to the chassis to make sure there were no more hidden surprises, throwing away all the old bushes, springs, shock absorbers and anything else that was easier to replace once in pieces.
So with everything sripped down we found that the chassis was in pretty good condition, while not original, the designer chassis just wanted a coat of protection to allow us to start the rebuilding process.
The running gear
The running gear was from a Discovery 200Tdi and was in surprisingly good condition, it ran smoothly and had no major leaks, so much so that we decided we would only need to give it a service with the usual oil, oil filter change and fit a new cambelt which would all be done on the rebuild. The only issue was the radiator which we decided had seen better days and would benefit from a new one.
The LT77 gear box had held up well and also just required an oil change.
Up to this point apart from the disappointing condition of the bodywork, we were still pretty upbeat.
The hard work begins - November 2016
The rebuild process started very quickly, it was a quiet period for the garage and they had plenty of time to spend on it. They changed all the bushes, got the axles back together, serviced the brakes, fitted the engine and all the running gear and then sent it off to the body and spray centre.
The holiday period saw the project slow down until mid-January when a new bulk head was fitted and various other structural parts had to be ordered and sent for spraying.
Ordering additional body parts that were missing or more to the point had not survived the strip down really slowed down the project and in early February the project ground to a halt, we would spend weeks identifying parts, sourcing them, sending them to the sprayer and waiting for him to fit them into his full schedule
It wasn't until early April that the chassis and most of the parts would make it back to the original garage that had started the project and because of all the delays it was right at the start of their busy period. Some parts were still at the body shop to be sprayed and the mechanics were only managing to work on the 90 when they had spare hours.
Slow progress - April 2017
With more and more problems arising day by day, the the cost of replacing parts spiralling and the sucker punch that the loom looked like it had been through a shredder progress became frustrating for everyone involved and the refurbishment project that we had gone into with big hopes had begun to turn into a nightmare, all the while we were missing the opportunity to take it to shows and events we were attending.
Decisions to make - Mid May 2017
With no end in sight a decision had to be made, we need to freshen up the project and reinvigorate the team or sadly we would have to sell the project part finished, we all had a chat and decided we had come too far stop now so we decided we need the A-Team of refurb teams, a group of guys willing to take on the impossible and help us over the line. We spoke to Graham at Land Rover Refurb and we gave him an impossible task, to take a chassis with two axles and running gear and the rest of the parts in boxes and turn it into a fully running vehicle in just over 10 days with the ability for that vehicle to make it from Barnsley to Edinburgh where we would show her off at the Scottish Land Rover Show
He said we were crazy and so we scrapped the vehicle and that's the end of the story...
Of course I am just joking, Graham said yes, he was excited about it and so on that same day, the 15th May 2017, deployed his team to haul the shell of a car and all the various parts that were in boxes and bags back to his shop where his team began work straight away.
On the road to Edinburgh
Hold on tight because these guys move quick
Monday 15th May 2017
The 90 soon made it's way back up the A1 where it was greeted by Graham and his team while a few of the team at getoffroad collected a van load of various parts from the body shop and set off to deliver them to refurb team.
It had only been a few hours since it had left when we arrived and already the enormity of what they had taken on was being assesed, bearing in mind Graham had quoted the hours it would take based on a brief telephone conversation and four or five pictures taken on a phone.
It was more than he thought, but he was honest and upfront and confident it could still be done, so we left them there to start on what would become a week of 115 mile round trips every day, ordering new parts that we wanted on the vehicle and dropping them off to Graham and his team to fit.
Wednesday 17th May 2017
There were a few surprises along the way too, the rear axle was not in a great way, it had been welded (in the loose sense of the word) at some point in it's life to a sub standard. Some parts we realised are difficult to source like the old style lift handles but they progressed none the less.
Friday 19th May 2017
We really started to see the progress, a new loom had been added, the bulk head had been reset, the tub had been re-seated and the roof fitted. Already we were started to believe that we might get there.
Monday 22nd May 2017
Graham and his team looked weary after a long weekend of hours spent getting the rest of the body panels fitted, the dashboard in, the brake chamber and brake pipes replaced.
Wednesday 24th May 2017 - Deadline day
Turning up on the Wednesday afternoon was nerve racking, we had promised so many people it would be ready to travel the 500 mile round trip to the show Friday. As we arrived just before dinner time Graham was emerging from the office looking tired (which we later found out was due to an all nighter to get the job done) but she was there in all her glory, the shining black panther paint and the piercing new Full Halo headlights. She was setting off for her MOT, her first journey under her own steam in a little over 10 months.
I am not going to lie, that 90 minutes was nerve racking but at the same I knew the everyone at Land Rover Refurb had done a great job.
It was a little after 16:30 when she arrived back, we could hear her coming down the road and it was a great relief when we got the thumbs up to say she had passed.
We drove her back to Barnsley that night, back to where it had all began the year before, just to get some miles under her and make sure there were no teething issues, but mainly because we were excited to see her out on the open road again.
Thursday 25th May 2017
We had a top of the range alarm/immobiliser fitted the next day by 1st Call Security as well as a 'Ardcase' pedal lock to keep away those pesky thieves and then took her back to Graham for some last minute adjustments and she never so much as murmured.
The little rust bucket had come along way in that ten months, she had been rebuilt from the ground up. She had almost been scrapped out of frustration on more than two occasions but it was worth it, we could have bought a later model, we could have saved a lot of heartache and money but there is something satisfying about seeing how far she has come.
Did she make it you ask, well, take a look below.
All 500 miles by herself, not a replacement part or AA tow truck in sight. The journey was a little bit like a scene from our favourite show Max and Paddy and at some points we did feel like we were "On the road to knowhere" in that tin box on a roasting hot day, but it was fun and in part it's what all Land Rovers are about.
Vote for what we do next
We have lots of plans on the next stage of the project, so we are going to be running a poll on what you would like to see added next, everything from engine upgrades to the dashboard replacement and possible interiors, so keep a eye out in your inbox or on the website to find our how you can have a say in how she develops.
Name our 90!
We have referred to her as many different things in this post "90", "Rust Bucket" and "her" but we want you to name her, sign up to the newsletter and we will let you know soon on how you could win the chance to name her and also win a £100 Amazon voucher.